Kolkata: As the polling date for Ballygunge by-election is approaching, the ruling party, Trinamool Congress, which is facing opposition for fielding former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) minister Babul Supriyo as a candidate, has had to change its campaign strategy.
Hailing from the film industry, Bollywood singer could have been a crowd puller, but because of Supriyo being an accused in the 2018’s Asansol riots, his pictures are not being used for Abhishek Banerjee’s proposed rally. While TMC chief and Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee’s pictures are there on the posters along with the party’s National General Secretary, Supriyo is nowhere placed on the new posters. The rally is important for TMC as it is facing major criticism for nominating a former BJP leader as its candidate from Ballygunge, a minority-dominated constituency.
Significantly, after the massive mandate TMC got in last year’s assembly election, Mamata Banerjee did not campaign for the party during bypolls. However, it will be interesting to watch whether she campaigns for Supriyo or not, whom she announced as a candidate but is opposed by a large section of society for his anti-minority acts.
When the candidature of Supriyo for Ballygunge constituency was announced, respective area’s TMC councillors had put up hoardings seeking votes, which had Abhishek-Mamata and Supriyo pictures. But within a fortnight, the Bollywood singer has gone missing from the party’s latest posters, or he is not being shown along with Mamata-Abhishek.
Interestingly, yesterday also, in a rally conducted by Tollywood stars to express their support for TMC candidate, but Supriyo was not present.
Meanwhile, citing Abhishek’s rally, Kolkata Police, as well as Election Commission, did not allow the People’s March in favour of CPM candidate Saira Shah Halim. The march was announced to be led by the No Vote To Babul Supriyo campaigners.
“We strongly condemn the denial of permission for a Rally in support of Left Front candidate Saira Shah Halim in the Ballygunge Assembly constituency by the Kolkata Police and Election Commission. The Rally was scheduled for tomorrow (April 7, 2022), starting from Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road (KMC Ward 61) at 3.00 pm,” said in an statement issued by civil rights activists Prasenjit Bose and Manzar Jameel.
It further reads, “Permission for the Rally was sought by a representative of the candidate on April 4, 2022, following the due process. Permission was denied on the ground that another party had applied for a rally at the same time and venue. Kolkata Police and Election Commission could have easily adjusted the route or timing of our procession, for which we were prepared. Our application was rejected without providing any alternative. ”
“We strongly feel that the Kolkata Police and Election Commission are denying permission for our procession because of pressure from the Trinamool Congress. It was at the behest of the Trinamool Congress that the police had arrested 26 activists of the anti-NRC movement on April 1 when they had tried to bring out a similar procession from Park Circus 7-point crossing, which was approved by the Election Commission. The Trinamool Congress wants to throttle the voices of dissent against its candidate Babul Supriyo, who has a tainted past in the BJP,” alleged Bose and Jameel in their statement.